Analysis: Israel Facing Attacks on 3 Fronts, Strikes Back in Gaza and Golan, Awaits US Support at UN
by Michael Widlanski
Israel fired its own rockets into Syria for the first time in nearly 40 years after Syrian artillery shells hit an Israeli army base bordering a civil-war-torn Syria, and the action came as more than 100 rockets and mortars fired by Hamas and other Palestinian groups struck Israel’s southern towns and villages closing schools and factories.
Four Israeli soldiers were wounded, two gravely, when the terrorists in Gaza attacked the border fence and Israeli forces inside Israel, and half a dozen Palestinians were killed when Israel struck back at the Palestinians who were trying to storm the fence or to launch more rockets into Israel.
Israeli communities throughout the Negev and as far north as Gedera were affected by the mortar and rocket attacks, some of which included heavy Grad rockets.
Israeli officials said the artillery shots into Syria were deliberately aimed to miss any targets, and were meant as serious warning shots to the army of President Assad which has been shooting at rebel forces near the Syrian-Israeli ceasefire lines.
Such sudden rising violence comes at a time when the PLO—led by the supposedly “moderate” Mahmoud Abbas—plans to move to isolate Israel at the UN with a vote on Palestinian statehood this month. Abbas has ignored US requests not to bring the move to the UN General Assembly.
Several leaders of the Israeli Left had only days ago said that Abbas had given up on Palestinian claims for a right to “return” refugees to Israel, but Abbas subsequently retracted the remarks in Arab media interviews.
The sharp rise in pressure on Israel on two military fronts and on the diplomatic front is expected to be a sore test for Israel and for President Barack Obama who was re-elected less than a week ago amid promises that he would not let Israel stand alone against threats.
But the new security crisis reflects the rise of Islamist forces, most importantly in Egypt where the new Muslim Brotherhood leaders boldly backed their kindred Islamist organization, Hamas, warning that Egypt might scrap the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty if Israel sends land forces into Gaza.
“Egypt will not be silent if there is any aggression against the Palestinians,” declared Hamas leader Ismail Haniyyeh, who serves as the Hamas “prime minister” in Gaza.
His remarks seemed to have been scripted and timed together with those of Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi who made almost identical remarks in Cairo.
“Egypt will not stand by if there is any aggression launched against the Palestinians,” said Morsi, who is also a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Inside Israel’s security community, there is a growing realization that any deterrent value from the 2006 and 2008 Israeli military operations has vanished.
Alex Fishman, the military commentator of Yediot Aharonot newspaper said that Israeli leaders would have to do something severe militarily in order for Israel to regain its ability to deter terrorists.
Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. A former reporter, correspondent and editor, respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers and The Jerusalem Post, he was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security and teaches at Bar Ilan University.